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Fact Sheet 2008–3061

Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Overview

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The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) is an instrument that collects remotely sensed data used by scientists for monitoring, modeling, and assessing the effects of natural processes and human actions on the Earth’s surface. The continual calibration of the MODIS instruments, the refinement of algorithms used to create higher-level products, and the ongoing product validation make MODIS images a valuable time series (2000-present) of geophysical and biophysical land-surface measurements. Carried on two National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Earth Observing System (EOS) satellites, MODIS acquires morning (EOS-Terra) and afternoon (EOS-Aqua) views almost daily. Terra data acquisitions began in February 2000 and Aqua data acquisitions began in July 2002. Land data are generated only as higher-level products, removing the burden of common types of data processing from the user community. MODIS-based products describing ecological dynamics, radiation budget, and land cover are projected onto a sinusoidal mapping grid and distributed as 10- by 10-degree tiles at 250-, 500-, or 1,000-meter spatial resolution. Some products are also created on a 0.05-degree geographic grid to support climate modeling studies. All MODIS products are distributed in the Hierarchical Data Format-Earth Observing System (HDF–EOS) file format and are available through file transfer protocol (FTP) or on digital video disc (DVD) media.

Versions 4 and 5 of MODIS land data products are currently available and represent "validated" collections defined in stages of accuracy that are based on the number of field sites and time periods for which the products have been validated. Version 5 collections incorporate the longest time series of both Terra and Aqua MODIS data products.

Version 1.2

Posted June 18, 2009

For additional information contact:
U.S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
(605) 594-6151
World Wide Web:

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Suggested citation:

U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) overview: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2008–3061, 2 p.

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